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County Level Right-To-Work Advocates Appeal Court Loss

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A Kentucky county appealed a recent court decision Monday that blocks local officials from enacting their own right-to-work ordinances.

District Court Judge David Hale ruled Feb. 3 that Hardin County cannot enact its own right-to-work laws. Hardin officials appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The case has impacted a handful of other counties in the state that also enacted the policy.

Right-to-work policies outlaw mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The United Automobile Workers and eight other unions brought forth the lawsuit just over a year ago in the hope of stopping the rise of county level right-to-work ordinances. The decision was made after almost six months of consideration.

Warren, Kentucky became the first county in the entire country to enact the policy independently back in December 2014. Several more counties followed, including Hardin. The county level push gave hope to supporters who doubted it could pass statewide because of Democrats in the legislature.

A number of national and state organizations have helped local officials fight the union legal attacks. Americans for Prosperity made a $50,000 grant last year to the legal defense fund Protect My Check — which was setup to help right-to-work advocates fight against any lawsuits.

The appeal may come down to what is known as the home-rule statute. The rule allows localities to pass their own economic policies so long as they don’t interfere with existing state law. Kentucky is among several states that have enacted the home-rule statute.

Right-to-work supporters argue the home-rule statute means counties can enact their own right-to-work laws since there is no state law banning it. The unions behind the lawsuit argue the policy violates federal law under the National Labor Relations Act. Supporters say only states can decide whether they want to enact such a policy.

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